Thatscricket - News - Noffke, Love emerge as new faces in Australian cricket
Published: Wednesday, May 2, 2001, 21:31 [IST]
Copyright AFP 2001
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Sydney: Queensland paceman Ashley Noffke was the surprise recipient when the Australian Cricket Board announced its list of contracted players for the 2000-02 season on Tuesday. The 24-year-old Noffke was among 25 players awarded the contracts along with other additions paceman Nathan Bracken and batsman Martin Love. While they were celebrating their national recognition, Andrew Bichel, Michael Kasprowicz, Matthew Elliott and Michael Hussey were not offered new deals. New South Wales quick Bracken was handed the contract after making his international debut last season. Noffke has played just six first-class matches but his man-of-the-match performance in the Sheffield Shield cricket final in March helped him bump out teammates Kasprowicz and Bichel. Noffke, who has been likened to Australian spearhead Glenn McGrath for his bowling rhythm and build, had even figured in discussions for this year's Ashes tour to England. While he missed Ashes selection, Noffke and 27-year-old Love have been placed in the queue of players waiting to replace Australia's ageing Test team. "It's a view to the future," chairman of selectors Trevor Hohns said on Tuesday. "Ashley certainly has age on his side and when you look around the ranks of players across the states, there is not too many players under 25. He performed very well in the interstate final and that helped him secure a ranking. Martin Love's form has been very good over a period of years and he is a player we think can bat nearly anywhere in the order if required." Australian selectors know Noffke isn't even guaranteed selection for Queensland because of the Bulls' powerful list of quick bowlers including Kasprowicz, Bichel, Adam Dale and Joe Dawes. But his star rose five weeks ago when he avoided 12th man duties at the last minute to help steer Queensland to another domestic title. His figures of five for 41 and two for 79, along with a marathon knock of 43 as night watchman, secured him an ACB deal. "I was thinking I would be 12th man for the final but I got the nod and from that day everything has fallen into place," he said. Love appears to have edged ahead of Brad Hodge and Jimmy Maher in the race for national selection after he was rewarded for his consistent batting for Queensland. He has yet to represent Australia but his excellent domestic season, including 910 runs at 75.83, pushed him closer to Test selection. Selectors included just two specialist opening batsmen in a contracted list containing all of the players bound for the upcoming English Test and One-day tours. "We're currently happy with the two (Matthew Hayden and Michael Slater) but there are another three or four openers scoring runs," Hohns said. "It means we're not picking right now one other opener who will be the next used. Form will dictate that."